Tuesday, September 22, 2009

All dressed up with someplace to go...

If you’ve vacationed in Barcelona, you have certainly experienced the city’s central boulevard, Las Ramblas. I was there the first time in my backpacking years, on a typically American, cram-it-all-in tour that also included Amsterdam, Munich, London, and a detour into the Sinai desert. Ah, youth.

In my backpacking days, an elegant evening out meant washing my hair (I was staying at pay-per-shower hostels) and putting on my darker Birkenstocks. So, if you have been to the Ramblas, you know that I still haven’t recovered from the overwhelming elegance I experienced there. Beginning around 10 pm, the population of Barcelona took to the street, in an exhibit of stylish ease and high-heel acrobatics that I could only assume resulted from years of intensive training. (I imagine here levels such as “crawling with grace”, “diaper-swaying toddler promenade”, etc.)

I was young and new to Europe, so people-watching (worshipping might be a better word) was activity enough for my petty budget. Yet, I did wonder in my own New Yorker way, where all these fashionistas were going. Did they really just get dressed up to walk up and down the street and look good? It did seem possible, and I chalked this up to the wonders of cultural diversity.

Lo, these many years later, I have discovered a reason to go back to the boardwalk, get dolled up, and join the fray. Right at the halfway point of Las Ramblas, a somewhat austere façade opens into the sumptuous interior of the Gran Teatre del Liceu, an opera house with a programme that rivals the most famous theatres of the world. The theatre is dedicated to presentating the core opera repertoire as well as rarely heard compositions, and the innovative productions are as chic as the Barcelona audience itself.

In my backpacking days, my idea of planning ahead involved opening the Let’s Go Europe tome before getting off the train in a new city. These days, my vacations are a lot shorter, my budget is a little broader, and I have even been known to throw a pair of medium-high-heels into my suitcase. So, I have checked out the fabulous list of performances at the Gran Teatre del Liceu on Classictic.com, and I am grabbing a no-frills flight to Barcelona.

I will never achieve the flair of the local Barcelona beauties, who must be born wearing heels and sunglasses. But I fully intend to don my flashiest mid-life-crisis-preview dress and sashay down the Ramblas with my e-Ticket in hand. After all, as much as I appreciate the rambling lifestyle, I find it a lot easier to get dressed up when I’ve got someplace to go.

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